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Accounting is one of the most in-demand careers today, with more new jobs opening up every day. The opportunities available to accountants, auditors and similar professionals in the field are expected to continue expanding as international business increases and more government regulations take effect. Accounting is rated among the top five careers by such publications as Forbes and CNN/Money, with new graduates earning an average of $55,000 in their first year on the job.
Accountants work with businesses, governments and other organizations to analyze and manage their finances. Accountants use spreadsheets and other computer applications to record, communicate and interpret financial results. They track transactions, recommend cost-cutting measures, and ensure that taxes are paid promptly and correctly. Accountants also help individuals and families file their taxes and manage their personal finances.
Opportunities for accountants can be found in cities of all sizes across the country. Some accountants are employed directly by businesses, government agencies, not-for-profits, colleges and similar organizations. Others work for public accounting firms that are retained by organizations to provide financial services. Accountants may also be self-employed, such as those who specialize in providing tax services for families.
A four-year degree from an accredited college or university is typically the minimum requirement to land your first job as an accountant. A graduate degree can be helpful, particularly for management positions or highly technical financial analysis work.
Many accountants obtain professional licenses, most notable the Certified Public Accountant (CPA). State licensing requirements vary, but CPAs generally must obtain additional college credit hours, have experience working in the field, and pass a rigorous examination.
Employment experts predict that the number of accounting and auditing jobs will grow by over 15 percent within the coming decade, as economic expansion drives the need for financial expertise.
Accountants and auditors are paid on average $65,000 a year, a significant increase from just $60,000 only a few years ago, and earnings are expected to continue to track upward.
Accountancy calls for sound skills in mathematics, analytical thinking and problem-solving. Accountants spend much of their time at computer screens, reviewing spreadsheets and analyzing financial data. Good written and spoken communications skills are important, because accountants prepare reports and present their findings to clients and upper management. They also need strong observation skills that help them pay close attention to details.
If you have good analytical, interpersonal, and mathematical skills, you can build a rewarding career as an accountant. The hours can be long and the work is sometimes tedious. However, through proper training and hard work, you can achieve the personal and professional satisfaction that many accountants enjoy.